The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has continued its attack on the United Kingdom’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) at the Pacific Tourism Leaders’ Forum.
Organised by PATA, members raised grave concerns over the negative impact of the UK government’s proposed increase in APD, scheduled for November 2010, branding the move “ill conceived and draconian”.
Tourism is among the top three income generators for most countries in the Pacific region and is the top sector for employment in almost all.
Long-haul tourism contributes significant numbers and the industry fears that this segment is at considerable risk because of the planned further increases in APD.
“The UKAPD has raised alarm bells across the region’s tourism sector and catalysed the formation of the Forum,” said Matt Hingerty, managing director of the Australian Tourism Export Council.
“This tax is politically motivated and is clearly the result of poor policy making.
“It is difficult to understand that a global economic power such as the United Kingdom could act with such insensitivity.”
Participants at the meeting fear such taxes act as a barrier to trade and development within the region, given its high dependence on the tourist dollar.
The planned increase in APD in November adds significant additional costs to business and leisure travellers visiting the Asia Pacific region. A family of four travelling from the United Kingdom to any destination in Band D (distance of 6,000 statute miles or more) face a travel bill of £340 sterling.
In January 2007 that same family paid just £80 sterling.
“The impact will be even more severe if other European nations choose to adopt this type of tax on travel. Indeed, the effects of such a regressive tax would be catastrophic for the smaller economies in the region,” Mr Hingerty added.
“The Forum finds some comfort in the fact the Britain’s major opposition party (Conservatives) has pledged, in its election manifesto, to review and reform the Air Passenger Duty.
PATA has been campaigning against the UKAPD since November 2008.
Recent actions include the lobbying of British Ambassadors and High Commissioners by PATA Chapters.